It should come as no surprise that mental health and nutrition are intrinsically linked. Our minds require huge amounts of sustenance when compared to other animals, and the quality and quantity of food we give them will have an effect on our thought processes. It was the fact that we began to eat cooked meat that allowed the human mind to become the amazing feat of nature that it is today, so we should consider this when deciding what to eat. In this blog, we’re going to look at the importance of a good diet in maintaining positive mental health.
The Desire for Food
Our level of desire for food of any kind can itself be an enormous indication of the state of our mental health. Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of conditions such as depression. The major issue with this is that not eating means that we have less energy mentally and physically, and can send people on a slippery slope that can be very difficult to come back from.
On the flipside, the overconsumption of food can be used as a way to try and alleviate depression as well. While these two facts may seem counterintuitive, certain “comfort foods” cause our bodies to release endorphins and dopamine. While this may make people feel slightly better in the present, it only leads to long-term mental and physical problems rather than helping to address the root of the issue. But the most important thing to remember here is that there is no one identifying factor to signal that a person is struggling with their mental health, and it is changes in eating habits that tend to reflect a change in someone’s mental state.
Too Much Coffee
Most of us are probably guilty of having too much coffee, but while it can be easy to laugh this off as a necessity of the 21st Century, overconsumption of coffee could be dealing serious damage to your mental health. The high concentrations of caffeine ingested over time can lead people to begin suffering from anxiety and insomnia, but it can also lead to loss of sleep, and is quite often used as a substitute for eating, which in turn leads to the mind being neglected of the nutrients it needs and filled with ones it doesn’t. All that being said, quitting coffee cold turkey is not a good idea. Instead, try to dial back the amount of caffeine you consume sticking to a schedule, switching to decaf, and ensuring that you don’t drink coffee instead of eating proper food.
It can be easy in the modern world to fall into the trap of getting our favourite dishes over and over again. What’s worse is the fact that, more often than not, these dishes are pretty unhealthy. With so many different choices readily available to us, you would think that we would all be eating different foods every day of the week, and you could argue that we should be. Eating the same foods over and over again, no matter what those foods are, is terrible for both your mental and physical health. Our body needs over 50 essential nutrients in order to have all of its needs met, which requires a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and pretty much anything you think of when you think “healthy food”, but the vast majority of us come nowhere close. It takes some work, but a balanced diet is non-negotiable when it comes to maintaining positive mental health.
To learn more about how your diet affects different parts of our bodies, be sure to visit the Spectrum Nutrition Blog.